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‘Here Are Your 29 Tips, Jane’; 7 Keys to Getting Better Email Opens

What do the following words have in common? 100%. Congratulations. Don’t. Get started. Innovate. Problem. Quickest. Success. Vacation. Volunteer. According to CoSchedule, they trigger spam alerts.
For what works well, a recent GetResponse survey revealed that the top words for inducing opens in a subject line are “pdf,” “newsletter” and “ebook.” “If you’re promoting a piece of content or a valuable resource, you’re probably better off if you mention it in the subject line.” But for click-to-open rates, “infographic” scored huge at 35.1%—very easy to digest—followed by newsletter at 31.4%. “Sale” and “free” also fared well—the latter drawing this comment: “This phrase, previously believed to cause deliverability issues, seems to work well for quite a few marketers… People still enjoy receiving free things.” Amen.
What can we do to improve engagement and deliverability of our email? Let us count some content-oriented ways here.
The Hubspot blog lists 29 ways to ways to avoid spam and improve your email deliverability. Here are three.
1. Don’t use all caps anywhere in your email or its subject line. “Don’t yell at people. It’s not nice. Using all caps in your subject line might get the recipients’ attention, but probably not in a good way. Using all caps can really rub people the wrong way. It’s annoying and can seem spammy.” They suggest “personalizing your emails, establishing relevancy, and using catchy and delightful language.”
2. Don’t use exclamation points. They are “unprofessional and spammy”—especially a whole bunch of them in a row. “And when 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line, you’ll want to stay away from triggers like this as much as you can.”
3. Avoid spam trigger words. You saw a few of them up top. “A good rule of thumb is this: If it sounds like something a used car salesman would say, it’s probably a spam trigger word. Think ‘guarantee,’ ‘no obligation’ and so on.” Instead, they encourage creativity and being informative—without giving too much away.
Here are three from Campaign Monitor.
4. Include a number in your subject line. A recent study looking at 115 million emails surmised that email open and reply rates go up when there’s a number in the subject line. “Numbers and data get your emails noticed, demonstrate a clear and straightforward message about your offer, and set the right expectations for your readers, helping draw them in.” Some I’m seeing today: 20% off new kitchen designs; 5 ways to win back lost customers; ViacomCBS to sell CNET for $500 million.
5. Utilize preheader text to boost subject line open rates. Preheaders summarize the content in your email for added explanation and enticement. Your readers gets an opportunity to preview the email, even while it sits unopened in their inbox. I just started doing this for another newsletter I send out. When done right, the subject line and the preheader complement each other. One example: “Innovative event ideas – Coffee mugs for speakers, drive-in meetings and year-round platforms highlight new twists for the virtual age.”
6. Keep your email subject lines relatively short. Here, as is often the case, it’s best to know your audience. If the majority are opening your emails on their phone, then go short. iPhones show about 35-38 characters in portrait mode, and Galaxy phones show roughly 33 characters in portrait mode. CM’s best practice suggests that “subject lines that are 17-24 characters long are most likely to boost your email open rates.” But that can really feel short sometimes. The main lesson in that is to be direct. Language cuteness has its place, but subject lines need to make an immediate impact.
And finally…
7. Emails with video still generate the highest email engagement rates. But only around 8% of the emails in a recent study from GetResponse contained links to videos. “For now, the best workaround is to use an image (maybe even a GIF) that looks like a video player and links to your page,” they suggest. “That way, you’ll boost your click-throughs and enhance your contacts’ experience as they’ll watch the content in their default browser or video player.”